Sinologists in Bydgoszcz

Zhengdao YE

Topic: Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) as a Heuristic Tool for Interpreting Invisible Culture: Theory and Application to Teaching and Learning Chinese as an Additional Language

In second language teaching and learning, many invisible aspects of the target linguaculture, such as the effect of complex social relationships on communicative acts and strategies in interactions, are often difficult for learners to discern and interpret. This is especially so with regard to many linguacultures, such as those of Chinese, in which speakers value implicit ways of communication; speakers’ intensions are often not explicitly expressed, and are therefore less accessible to language learners.

In this talk, I argue and illustrate that Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM), in particular its offshoot the ‘cultural script’ approach (e.g. Goddard and Wierzbicka 2004, 2007; Goddard 2006, 2018), can be a useful pedagogical tool for teaching invisible culture. More specially, I will illustrate these points by focusing on a family of cultural scripts relating to Chinese emotion expression and social interaction (e.g. Ye 2004, 2006, 2019; Goddard and Ye 2013). In doing so, I show how cultural scripts can be used as meaning-making resources for learners of Chinese in what Duff and Doherty (2018) call ‘Chinese second language socialisation’. I will end the talk by discussing the potential for developing NSM-based education materials in the global context of teaching Chinese as an additional language, based on pilot work that applies NSM in the classroom (e.g. Fernández 2016; Sadow 2018, 2020).